Tania Unzueta got on the phone Saturday morning as she was driving from one side of Georgia to the other. She drove from Atlanta to Augusta, which is on the border with South Carolina.
While the city is best known for the Masters golf tournament, it now hosts a different type of competition. Unzueta, along with its crew of 30, was looking for several thousand Latino voters and planned to knock on as many doors as possible for the rest of the day.
“We go to doors that no one has ever gone to,” said Unzueta.
It was three days before tomorrow’s runoff elections that will determine the balance of power in the US Senate. In the past two months, Unzueta had not heard a national political organizer say to himself, “I didn’t know there were Latinos in Georgia!” To see $ 2.3 million poured into their organization Mijenteor “my people”.
This has enabled her to assemble a group of around 200 recruiters who have spread across the state looking for Latino voters to convince them to come to the election and vote for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock be right. During the early vote, which ended on December 31, they knocked on around 280,000 doors, wearing masks and keeping their distance. Now she made a last minute push ahead of election day.
A handful of organizations are on the ground in Georgia, engaging in everything from impartial voting efforts to Mijente’s more partisan approach, to interpreting Spanish in the elections during the early voting, to lobbying counties with large Latino populations to see the closure Undo polls and distribute information in Spanish about the election. All of them are a sign of changing Georgia, which on November 3rd turned the state blue for the first time since 1992.
69 percent of Georgian Latino voters backed the Democrats in the presidential and home races in November End polls;; 60 percent voted for Ossoff and 39 percent for Warnock (there were 20 candidates). Counties of Gwinnett and Cobb – two of the five largest counties in Georgia – were also the first in the state’s history to provide voting papers in Spanish during a presidential election. (Almost 22 percent of Gwinnetts population of 936,250 is Hispanic; 13.3 percent of Cobb ’s population of 760,141 is Hispanic).
The change wasn’t easy or smooth. One reason for this is the way that Georgia and the South thought of race and identity. Deborah González, who was elected first District Attorney in Latina on November 3, told me that a former member of Congress had discouraged her by telling her voters would not do so when she contemplated seeking a seat in 2017 Apply to Landtag refer to her as a candidate. “You are not white, you are not black,” he said. “You’re different “.”
“Georgia has historically been black or white,” said González.
In places like Hall County, change is inevitable. Almost 1 in 3 of his population of 204,000 are Hispanic, many of whom have come to work in the poultry factories that became the county seat of Gainesville call yourself, “Poultry Capital of the World”. Gabriel Velázquez wears two hats that make him very visible to Latinos in the Gainesville area and the Hall County area: his family has been running a business that was first butchers and now Taquería El Mercadito for 20 years. He has also recruited voters, participated in elections for several election cycles, distributed literature and offered to help translate ballot papers. At the end of December, his restaurant hosted an event by Fair fight, an organization founded by Stacey Abrams that has helped enroll hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters in recent years. Hundreds of locals came for free burritos; Some were convinced they had already voted, Velázquez said. They were referring to the November 3rd election. The members of the group informed them about the drains.
Despite the large Hispanic population, Hall County officials did not provide election papers in Spanish. This has led to a phenomenon that Velázquez has observed in the early voting for the Senate runoff and in previous elections: people appear to vote with younger, bilingual family members or for help before arriving. Last week he asked a man he recognized as a customer of his restaurant if the man needed help translating the voting slip. “No, my daughter helped me at home,” said the man. Velázquez tries to see this situation in a positive light: “They forced us to make a family event out of it,” he said, referring to district officials. “In five, ten years’ time, the children who help their parents vote will vote for themselves.”
Miranda Galindo, Senior Counsel at Latino justice, had just emailed officials in Liberty County, south of Savannah, on the Georgia coast late last week. Almost 13 percent of the county Over 61,000 residents are of Spanish descent, and Galindo tried to convince officials to offer the same Spanish-language ballot that Cobb County used for the runoff elections. “The Latino population is growing and it seems like news to some people here in Georgia,” she said.
Galindo had too United forces In mid-December, numerous activist organizations tried to get Hall County to reverse its decision to close half of the eight early voting sites made available during the general election. Several of the closed sites were in areas with high numbers of Hispanics of voting age. Public transportation is rare in North Central Georgia. The polls remained closed; Velázquez and other election observers reported waiting times of more than 30 minutes on several days of the early voting period.
Another phenomenon that is important in reaching the Hispanic voters in Georgia in these nationally important runoff elections is the mixed status family. research has shown that nearly one in five Hispanic households includes someone who is not a national. Elton García-Castillo, Field County Coordinator for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) encounters it when distributing information about the drains. “A lot of people in the community say, ‘I’ll give this to my son,” he said – because the parents are not documented, but the son is registered to vote. The eligible family member considers issues that are important to everyone in the household, and ends with “voting not just for yourself but for the whole family,” said Galindo.
At an event in late December aimed at Latino voters at the Santa Fe Mall in Duluth, a town in Gwinnett County of nearly 30,000 15.6 percent HispanicJon Ossoff told the crowd: “Mi madre es inmigranteThis refers to his mother, who came to the United States from Australia alone when she was 23. Warnock was also in attendance, as was television and film actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria and actor and rapper Common, a sign of the importance of the event for the campaigns.
Juan Pascual stepped aside and took up the positions of the two democratic candidates. Pascual, who works for a company that helps repair utility infrastructure after hurricanes and other natural disasters, was impressed. “There was always more injustice,” he said. “I really wanted to vote.” The only problem: the 57-year-old, originally from Mexico, had been based in the US since 1988 and began becoming a citizen four years ago in order to postpone the swearing-in ceremony several times.
“I feel powerless,” he said, but was determined to speak to his 27-year-old son. What did he like about the candidate? “The part about health care and work,” he said – in other words, Ossoff had said in Spanish.